Test Early and Often – Developing Applications for Teachers in a K-12 Setting

As a developer at Uplift Education, I support and build tools for over 800 teachers who are located in over 17 schools spread across the Dallas Fort Worth region. I am passionate about product development and I wanted to share some advice on how to quickly iterate in an educational settings when developing a product.

  • Establish a user group
    • With such a large population, a great way to obtain a consistent feedback is to create a user group. This user group is fully aware that at anytime or at any place they may need to stop, sit and test. I enjoy having a user group because I can sleep well at night knowing that when I develop a product I have a team of teachers who are willing to help. Thank you teachers.
  • Develop Personas and Find people like your personas
    • Some of the products I develop are only required to be used by a subset of our population. A great way to perform user testing is to create a persona of your key population and then find people who are similar to your personas
  • Skype/Hangout/Online Meetings
    • Since our teachers and admin are everywhere another great tip is to perform usability studies remotely. Thanks to screen sharing, I can quickly connect with teachers who have offered to participate in my user group and watch them talk out loud and click through the tools that I develop.
  • Ask another person
    • Sometimes no one is available. As a final result, head to the lunch room, ask coworkers nearby to help you test. Have them review your personas or preface your testing by making them think of the needs of our teachers that we support. This impromptu testing is most definitely helpful, but I try to use it as a last option as obtaining actual users of your tool is the most beneficial.

Ihudiya Finda Ogburu is an application developer at Uplift Education. She loves education so much she received her Master’s in Education from Harvard University.

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